So what is THON? Really, there are several ways to look at the definition of THON. One of them is taken directly from the THON website:
In 1973, a small group of dedicated Penn State students held our first Dance Marathon. That year, 39 dancer couples participated and raised $2,000. Since then, THON’s presence in the Penn State community has grown exponentially. THON now has 15,000 student volunteers, 700 dancers, and has raised more than $69 million, benefiting The Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.
THON is now a year-long effort that raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. With the support of students from all across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and THON Alumni all around the world, we continue to make great strides towards finding a cure for all childhood cancers!
In my own words:
THON is the difference between good and GREAT. THON is a commitment to bettering the lives of others. THON is unselfish. THON is dedication. THON is love. THON is one of the single best things I've accomplished in life. THON was the most inspirational 48 hours of not sitting or sleeping in my life, and THON is something everyone should experience at some point in life. THON is LIFE.
As a student at Penn State, I was involved in THON every year. Two years as a moraler - keeping two dancers happy and smiling all weekend long! One year as a Special Events captain, organizing the Locks of Love drive which included more than 135 people donating 10+ inches of hair to make wigs for kids with cancer. And one year as a dancer for Lion Ambassadors. That year was the best :)
This weekend, THON was held at Penn State in the Bryce Jordan Center, and I spent my Sunday afternoon tuned into the webcast, crying my eyes out. And I couldn't have asked for anything better. The last four hours of THON are truly the most inspirational, with family hour being the highlight. It's that time of THON when most dancers are delirious and need some motivation. That happens in the form of Four Diamonds families sharing stories and personal experiences, reminding us all why we dance and THON ON. The most touching part comes when a video is played to remember all of the kids who have lost their lives to cancer, with Angels Among Us serving as the music track. Insert flowing tears here.
This year, a high school student by the age of Nike Pantalone spoke. He's fighting cancer, but still manages to be the valedictorian of his class, president of the drama club and too many others to list. He shared his favorite quote from the Disney Pixar movie Wall-E that really struck me...
Some would think I was crazy to sit around spending four hours of 'precious time' on my computer crying through the THON webcast. But not me.